Your kids are going to be exposed to millions of bits of information in their lifetime. Some will be true, some will be false, some will contain partial truth. If you are Christian, you realize the consequences of confusing God’s truth for the world’s lies can be eternal. So it’s critical you teach your kids how to discern between truth and fiction.
In the last post, we gave you some tools to teach them for the process of trying to separate fact from fiction. To do it well and quickly though, your kids will need a lot of practice with you guiding them as they go. There are actually quite a few activities that can be fun, while also teaching them the important Christian Life Skill of discernment.
- Advertising Game. Find ads in magazines or commercials that might run on television. Have your kids see if they can find the “catch” in each ad – the truth they are trying to hide because it really doesn’t make their product look as great. Or have them search for the subliminal lies they tell – like driving our car means you will be surrounded with beautiful people wanting to date you. For an extra bit of fun, try to find advertising from when you were their age or your parents or grandparents were young. Has truth in advertising gotten worse or better over the decades? Have the types of misleading information and lies changed?
- Mysteries. There are lots of great children’s books that are mysteries. At the heart of every mystery is someone – the criminal – who is hiding the truth and someone who must find the truth. As you read them together, have your kids notice if there are any patterns about the lies or how they are told? What “tools” did the detective use to uncover the truth?
- The Fallacy Detective Series. This series written for children is slightly different from a standard mystery. As your kids try to solve the challenge, they are learning about common logical fallacies people use to convince others they are telling the truth. It’s a lot of fun and there are several books in the series.
- Fact Checking Game. Many newspapers now claim to have this feature for some of the top stories of the week. They will take a quote from someone in the story and fact check to see if it were actually true. Have your kids do something similar. Often statements by politicians are the easiest to fact check, partially because they talk about popular issues and partially because very few seem to tell the absolute truth consistently. As your kids are fact checking, teach them how to evaluate sources as reliable fact checking sources. (The Bible of course is the ultimate fact checking source for how God wants us to live our lives.)
- Debate Team Game. Older children may enjoy pretending they are on the debate team. Let them pick the topic to be debated, so they will be interested. It can be serious or silly. You take the opposite side of the debate and mix in lies, half truths, omitted truths, twisted truths and more to support your arguments. See if your kids can catch you using unreliable information and presenting it as fact. If they enjoy the game, siblings may want to compete. Eventually make it really difficult as everyone tries hard to tell the absolute truth, but still stay on opposite sides of the argument.
Have fun with it, but the more practice you can give your kids, the less likely they are to be pulled away from God by a flimsy argument.